Phishing Fraudulent And Malicious Websites
Whether we like it or not, we are all living in the Information Age. We have nothing left but adapt to rapidly developing information technology, no matter who we are and what we do for living.
The Internet, in particular, means for us boundless opportunities in life and business - but also lots of dangers unheard of just a decade ago. We should be aware of these dangers if we want to use the huge potential of the Internet and to avoid the hazards it brings us.
Warning: There are Websites You'd Better Not Visit
Thanks to authors of numerous articles on this topic, "classic" phishing technique is relatively well known. This scam involves setting bogus websites and luring people to visit them, as a rule, by links in emails. Phishing website is disguised to look like a legitimate one - of a bank or a credit card company, and users are invited to provide their identifying information. Sites of this kind are used solely to steal users' passwords, PIN numbers, SSNs and other confidential information.
At first phishing consisted only of a social engineering scam in which phishers spammed consumer e-mail accounts with letters ostensibly from banks. The more people got aware of the scam, the less spelling mistakes these messages contained, and the more these fraudulent websites resembled legitimate ones. Phishers are getting smarter. They eagerly learn; there is enough money involved here to turn criminals into earnest students.
Since about November 2004 there has been a lot of publications of a scheme which at first was seen as a new kind of phishing. This technique includes contaminating a PC with a Trojan horse program. The problem is that this Trojan contains a keylogger which lurks at the background until the user of the infected PC visits one of the specified websites. Then the keylogger comes to life to do what it was created for - to steal information.
It seems that this technique is actually a separate scam aimed at stealing personal information and such attacks are on the rise. Security experts warn about commercialisation of malware - cybercriminals prefer cash to fun, so various kinds of information-stealing software are used more actively.
Fraudulent websites are on the rise
Websense Security Labs - a well-known authority in information security - noticed a dramatic rise in the number of fraudulent websites as far back as in the second half of 2004. These sites pose as ones for e-commerce; they encourage users to apply for a reward or purchase something, of course never delivering the product or paying money. The most popular areas for such fraud are online pharmacies, lottery scams, and loan / mortgage sites. Experts predict there will be more fake merchants in future and their scams will become more sophisticated.
Malicious websites are especially dangerous. Cybercriminals create them exclusively to execute malicious code on the visitors' computers. Sometimes hackers infect legitimate sites with malicious code.
Bad news for blog readers: blogs can be contaminated, too. Since January, Websense Security Labs has discovered hundreds of these "toxic" blogs set by hackers.
When unsuspecting users visit malicious sites, various nasty applications are downloaded and executed on their computers. Unfortunately, more and more often these applications contain keyloggers-software programs for intercepting data.
Keyloggers, as it is clear from the name of the program, log keystrokes -but that's not all. They capture everything the user is doing - keystrokes, mouse clicks, files opened and closed, sites visited. A little more sophisticated programs of this kind also capture text from windows and make screenshots (record everything displayed on the screen) - so the information is captured even if the user doesn't type anything, just opens the views the file.
In February and March 2005, Websense Security Labs researched and identified about 8-10 new keylogger variants and more than 100 malicious websites which are hosting these keyloggers EACH WEEK. From November of 2004 through December 2004 these figures were much smaller: 1-2 new keylogger variants and 10-15 new malicious websites per week. There is by all means a disturbing tendency-the number of brand-new keyloggers and malicious website is growing, and growing rapidly.
What a user can do to avoid these sites?
As for phishing, the best advice is not to click any links in any email, especially if it claims to be from a bank.
Opening an attachment of a spam message can also trigger the execution of malicious program, for example a keylogger-containing Trojan horse.
As for fraudulent websites, maybe buying goods only from trusted vendors will help - even if it is a bit more expensive.
As for malicious websites... "Malicious websites that host adult entertainment and shopping content can exploit Internet Explorer vulnerabilities to run code remotely without user interaction."(a quote from Websense's report). What can a user do about it? Not much, but avoiding adult sites and buying only from known and trusted online stores will reduce the risk.
Hackers also attract traffic to malicious websites by sending a link through spam or spim (the analog of spam for instant messaging (IM). So a good advice never follow links in spam is worth remembering once more.
Intrusion Prevention It Risk Management
Intrusion Prevention solutions detect and eliminate content-based threats from email, viruses, worms, intrusions, etc. in real time without degrading network performance. They detect and eliminate the most damaging, content-based threats from email and Web traffic such as viruses, worms, intrusions, inappropriate Web content and more in real time - without degrading network performance.
Today's global information infrastructure faces possible huge financial losses caused by ineffective Intrusion Prevention. Among the most vulnerable technologies are Providers of VoIP, video teleconferencing and data over cellular networks. While these providers have integrated into their products, the need for new Intrusion Prevention solutions is constant. Here are some of the area in which Intrusion Prevention offers effective solutions.
Instant Messaging - Intrusion Prevention
The real-time, interactive nature of Instant Messaging makes it a valuable tool for business partners, customers and fellow employees. The breach of security opportunities created by the use of IM must be managed for given its postion as a widely accepted business communications tool.
Real Time Vulnerability - Intrusion Prevention
Real Time Vulnerability Protection Suite breaks away from the reactive method of chasing attacks after they happen to eliminating and protecting vulnerabilities on your systems. By protecting against known and unknown vulnerabilities, you can ensure data reliablity and sercurity.
Network Infrastructure - Intrusion Prevention
Intrusion Prevention protect the network infrastructure to carry on your business without disruption. Enterprise level solutions offer effectevie network intrusion prevention solutions (IPS) within the context of your company's comprehensive security policy.
Email - Intrusion Prevention
Financial Companies, manufactures, retailers, etc. use intrusion prevention to scan messages and attachments for viruses. Together with "preemptive" email security approach, effective intrusion prevention offers the best protection from spam and virus attacks.
Application Level Attacks - Intrusion Prevention
A successful denial of service attack can put a corporate website off line for hours or more. Intrusion Prevention products offer the best protection against application level attacks and secure all networked applications, users and server resources.
Large Enterprises - Intrusion Prevention
Large Enterprises with widely dispersed Carrier & Data Center Networks need specially built high-performance security gateway Intrusion Prevention with proven firewall and IPSec VPN to deliver scalable network and application level security. Intrusion prevention protects the enterprise against the seemingly insignificant worm, virus, trojan, etc. that can topple its network.
Sending Passwords By Email
It amazes me how many sites allow you to register, and then send you an e-mail to your registered address containing your password in plain-text. There is never a warning stating that the site will email the password you use, for all to see.
Sending passwords by e-mail works when you forget a password. The site changes it and e-mails you the new one, which you then use to log in and change it to something else. The e-mailed password is not active for very long, and it isn't something you chose.
Sending you your own password, either in a welcome e-mail once you register, or as a response to a "forgot password" request is bad security. Really bad security.
You can't tell whether a site is going to do to this, so it isn't possible to use a "less sensitive" password for sites which will e-mail your password back to you. If you have groups of passwords; one for sites you use to pay for things, one for forums, one for other less important sites, for instance, then you may enter your "usual" password without realising it may be compromised by being sent in an e-mail, visible to anyone along the way that wants to read it.
Sites should seriously consider the security implications of sending passwords by e-mail, especially if there is no prior warning that this will happen!
Hacker Steals Secret Government Plans Protect Your Information Or Pay The Price
There are two main types of information where access needs to be managed;
1) Company Information
2) Private Individual Information
Companies limit access to certain information on their computer network as a matter of routine. Not everyone will be able to access last month's sales figures or know the detailed plans for next year. Everyone accepts this as reasonable and protection against speculation in the company's shares.
Management of sensitive information of this type is can be achieved by firewalls and password protection within a company's computer network. Access to the information can also be at various levels, eg read only or editing rights.
Backing up data on a daily basis is an essential part of a company's disaster recovery plan. Very sensitive information may not be stored on a network connected computer. Hackers are a security threat that most IT network managers are very aware of.
Every company and government body also gathers information on us. That might be as simple as a database of phone numbers and addresses, or it could include your Social Security number and driving licence details. There are laws in place to limit how that information is accessed and used.
Government agencies and large companies usually comply fully with all state and federal legislation regarding Information management. They have personnel who are exclusively responsible for managing the information databases.
Small businesses may be less vigilant in their compliance, not through a lack of willingness, but through a lack of knowledge or management time. When there is effectively one person making all planning and management decisions in a company, a policy for information management is not always high on the agenda.
You have the right to see the information that any company or organization holds on you and to have it corrected if inaccuracies exist. You should also ask what the company uses the information for, whether it is for marketing purposes or whether the information is shared with other companies
Phishing And Fraud What Is It
Phishing is a very sneaky type of fraud conducted over the Internet. Its name is a throw back to the early days of hacking and identity theft and the practice of phone phreaking. While there can be very complicated schemes devised, they are all based on a very simple concept.
Phishers try to persuade you, or trick you into giving them sensitive information which they can then use to make money out of the system. For example, one very attractive target for phishers would be your paypal account. Paypal is an online payment system that allows you to put money in your account with your credit or debit card, and then basically email the money to other people's paypal accounts. It is very simple, cheap and fast and very popular for online shoppers as they do not have to give their credit card details away over the internet.
If you wanted to take money out of other people's paypal accounts, all you would really need is their email address and password. Then you sign in to their account, and send the money to an account you have set up.
What phishers will do is email paypal customers with an email that looks like an official email from paypal. It will have the paypal logo and format and will look exactly like official paypal emails to customers. It may even come from an address that looks like paypal's official website. It will go on to say it is a random security check or some other technical procedure and that you are required to type in your user name and password. It will then thank you and say the check or whatever other scheme it claims to be is complete. In the meantime, the phisher will have your password and can clear out your account.
While this is a basic example, there are countless variations of increasing complexity that will be used to try and entice customers to give out bank account details, credit card details or other sensitive information. It can often be next to impossible for the average customer to detect that the email or website is not the official one of the company it is supposed to be from and they are therefore very dangerous.
If you do suspect that an email you receive is a phishing attempt then notify the appropriate company immediately. The other thing to remember is that most banks, credit card companies and other institutions now inform their customers that they will never ask their customers for their passwords in an email, nor will any of their employees ever ask for a password and therefore never give it to anyone who asks you for it.
The Benefits Of Internet Security On The Education Front
Online Courses Bring Advantages and Security Threats
A college education is mandatory in today's job market. Because of this, many workers find themselves pursuing a higher education while they are employed. One way colleges are making access to education more convenient for workers is by offering a wide range of their curriculum via online courses. This growing trend brings with it all the advantages and disadvantages associated with Internet connectivity.
One of the main advantages to students is easy access to their coursework at all hours of the day and night. In fact, online classes can usually accommodate any work schedule. The ease of communication with the instructor is another reason online courses are so popular. Still another important advantage is that online courses can be accessed easily from any public commuter with an Internet connection, like those you might find at universities or in public libraries.
Colleges and universities support this trend toward online classes because they can attract more students and increase revenue without incurring the overhead associated with a classroom full of students.
However, as with any trend, there is a downside to this rapid increase in online education. Chief among the challenges institutions face is the need to defend against Internet-based threats. These threats are inherent in Web access and include instant messaging and peer-to-peer file sharing, spyware and phishing attacks, a wide-range of objectionable Web content and human nature itself.
Examples of human corruption as a source of Internet-based threats are everywhere. The Internet is rife with everything from the criminality of hacking and phishing attacks to the irritation of surreptitious spyware agents. The most dangerous threat is from predators who often target young people, the very ones who are likely using computers at schools and libraries. In a recent scandal involving MySpace.com, a predator was tracking the movements of teenaged girls via their myspace.com postings. Predators on the Internet have been present since the beginning of Internet technology. They fish in chat rooms, message boards and e-mail. Even if the unsuspecting public is aware of the dangers posed by predators, the need for Internet security is essential in any strategy for defending against Web-based threats. This becomes even more critical when an educational site is vulnerable to attack.
Colleges provide their own websites, message boards, blogs and email addresses. When a phisher or hacker or a predator with hacking skills is able to breach the unsecured network of a college, it leaves more than just intellectual property open for perusal. And if external threats to the students and the network were not enough, a system administrator at a college also has to deal with the actions of the students as well.
The Hazards of Downloading
Computer access in the college library is very common even on the smallest of community college campuses. Students unaware of security threats can easily surf a number of questionable websites, downloading objectionable material and leaving a network vulnerable by visiting a chat room or opening an instant message with a skillful hacker on the other end.
Through any of these means an unprotected network can be at risk for backdoor programs, viruses and hackers. Defending against these threats is important for network security, student safety and the college's reputation. An unsecured network is easy prey for an experienced hacker and the last thing a college can afford is to have a student's personal information or worse, financial information compromised.
Reputation and Integrity
Colleges rely on their reputations and integrity to distinguish their institutions in a crowded field. Their reputation is comprised of many elements including student success rates and faculty expertise. The integrity of a college's network security can directly impact student enrollment because any decline in a school's good reputation can spread like wildfire. Schools with diminished reputations can see enrollment fall off as parents and students alike find other schools with better reputations.
This situation doesn't just affect colleges, it also applies to local schools and school districts where networks, computers in classroom and wireless connections are becoming more common. Even more compelling, protecting young children is more critical for schools than even their reputations.
Utilizing proper filtering hardware and software can protect the integrity of the educational institution as well as their security and by extension, the security of the students. Filtering hardware can prevent students from accessing unsafe websites or questionable ones. It can prevent downloading of materials, backdoor programs and worms.
The Obvious Solution
With the use of filtering hardware, schools can protect ports into their network exploited by instant messaging programs and more. When it comes right down to it, educational institutions are negligent if they do not employ the right network security. With so many potential problems waiting to prey on the unsuspecting and unsecured network, filtering hardware is the obvious answer.
A Basic Guide To Internet Security
The internet is a wonderful place; many of us use it on a regular basis for a multitude of functions. Email helps us to keep in touch with family, and friends all over the world and most people have at least one email account. The growing use of digital cameras and camera phones means that we can send pictures at the click of a mouse. MP3 players have become increasingly popular, and we can download songs to play on them with extreme ease. All of this is great, and the internet is becoming a big part of our everyday lives.
Unfortunately, there is a downside to all of this increased use of the internet. That is the growth of the spread of viruses and other so-called 'malware'. Originally, internet hackers were satisfied keeping their attentions focussed on government and business websites, and their viruses were intended to attack corporations. Most hackers saw this as a challenge. However, there is now an increasing trend towards home computer users being targeted by these attacks. The amount of damage that can be caused by a virus varies, but there are a number of easy steps that a person can take to help increase their internet security.
The first step to keeping your computer free from viruses is to have up-to-date antivirus software running on your computer. You need to make regular checks to ensure that your software is updated, and to scan your entire computer for viruses. There are a number of cheap, and free antivirus software programs available that provide excellent protection. You can find these by searching through your search engine for antivirus software.
The next step to maintain your internet security is to be extremely cautious about the type of files that you open, or download. The majority of viruses are actually spread through email attachments. Having these on your computer, in your inbox, is not the danger; the real danger is when you open the attachment. It may not be obvious that anything has happened when you first open the attachment containing the virus, quite often they appear blank. The damage is caused by the program that is activated within the attachment. If you do not know, and trust, the person who has sent you the attachment then delete the email.
Protect Your Privacy
The internet is evolving rapidly as its uses grow in number and variety. More and more users are shopping online, chatting with their friends, or just browsing the web for something interesting. But the net isn't an entirely safe place; some people out there are waiting to take advantage of you and invade your privacy. There are some special kinds of computer program that can help to protect yourself against such threats. Let's see how a simple free spyware remover program can help.
Don T Get Caught By A Phishing Scheme
You receive an email from your bank warning you that your account information needs to be updated urgently or else it will be suspended. In a panic, you click on the link in the email and are brought to your bank's web site. Without giving it a second thought, you enter your user name and password to access your account online. In that moment, you have just handed an unknown criminal the keys to your banking account. You've been the victim of a phishing1 scheme.
Phishing has become one of the most common methods of electronically stealing people's identities. During the period between May 2004 and May 2005, over 1.2 million individuals were victims of these attacks and have lost approximately $929 million. Clearly, phishing is a big problem, but the question is how can you protect yourself from being reeled in?
One way is to increase your suspicion. The emails and web sites used in these phishing schemes are often remarkably accurate in appearance and tone to the real thing. That can make it difficult for you to recognize a fraud. However, there are a couple of things that can alert you to danger.
First, check how the email is addressed. Does it say "Dear Paypal Customer" or does it include your name? Legitimate emails from these companies will use your name in the salutation. If the email begins with a generic salutation that could have been sent to anyone, then you should think twice before following any links in the email.
Second, consider what the email is saying. Phishing schemes frequently use scare tactics, such as telling you that your account is being suspended, to make you act quickly and without thinking. Don't fall into their trap! If you receive an email stating that some problem exists with your account, contact the organization by email or, preferably, by phone to check the status for yourself.
Finally, never click on a link in the email. These links will redirect you to the attackers' web site. Instead, go to the organization's web site on your own. For example, if you received an email supposedly from Ebay about your account, you would type www.ebay.com into your browser instead of using the link. That way you can check the status of your account safely because you'll know you are at the right location.
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